U.S. House And Senate Pass Bills To Compensate Spokane Tribe For Losses From Grand Coulee Dam

Grand Coulee Dam File Photo - CREDIT Bureau of Reclamation
When the Grand Coulee Dam was built between 1933 and 1941, it effectively blocked salmon from traveling to the upper reaches of the Columbia River. CREDIT: U.S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

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The U.S. House voted on Monday to pay compensation to the Spokane Tribe for its losses when Grand Coulee Dam was built in the 1930s and 1940s.

When the dam was built, Spokane tribal lands were flooded or otherwise damaged and the tribe was never compensated.

The action by the House this week will help to rectify that.

It voted to approve annual payments to the tribe, the money coming from the Bonneville Power Administration, the entity that operates the federal dam system on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Monday’s vote follows a Senate vote in June. The proposal now goes to President Trump for his signature.

Washington Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers championed the bill in both chambers. McMorris Rodgers’ 5th Congressional District includes the Spokane Reservation, and Cantwell is a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

The compensation bill for the Spokanes has been in Congress for more than 15 years, getting through one chamber or the other, but never both. The Spokane Tribe is the second to receive money for losses due to Grand Coulee Dam; the Colville Confederated Tribes began receiving payments in the mid-1990s.

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